Negotiations with two unions were not completed before the contracts ran out on Saturday, according to a statement from FairPoint Communications.
Union members voted to authorize a strike last month. The strike authorization is a precursor to a work stoppage; it gives union leaders the go-ahead to call for a strike at some point in the future.
The company, which provides phone and Internet service to customers in Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire, will continue under most of the terms of the expired contracts.
Ange Amores Beaudry, spokeswoman for the company, said there has been no movement toward an agreement.
The Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers she said have “dug in” on benefits under contracts from “a bygone era.” The two unions represent about 450 workers in Vermont.
“To date, the unions have rejected company proposals on most of the core issues in these negotiations,” said Beaudry. “There has been little or no movement on pensions, retiree medical for active employees or subcontracting, issues which are key to reaching new contracts.”
FairPoint and the union are in disagreement over use of outside contractors who would be used to replace union workers, among other issues, including a freeze on pensions and a discontinuation of health care benefits for retirees.
The company wants to restructure its retirement system for workers in order to better compete with its rivals in the telecommunications industry.
Unionized workers at FairPoint make on average $115,000 a year, including benefits. The company covers 100 percent of health care costs.